Florence native Curtis Thompson won the javelin Monday evening at the U.S. Olympic Trials and uncorked his biggest throw in five years and the second-best throw of his life, virtually guaranteeing himself a spot on the U.S. Olympic team headed to Tokyo next month.
He’s the first Olympic Trials champion from Burlington County since Carl Lewis of Willingboro won the 100 and long jump in Indianapolis in 1988.
Thompson does not have the Olympic standard of 278-10 (85 meters) – only three Americans have ever thrown that far, none since 2007.
But as the winner of the Trials, if he’s ranked among the top-32 in the world as of June 29, he’ll make the U.S. team.
He’s currently got the No. 18 throw in the world, although the IAAF’s ranking systems take some other things into account, and his actual updated ranking isn’t available yet. He’s currently listed right at No. 32, but it appears that doesn’t include his performance at the Trials. You can find that ranking system on the IAAF site here.
Thompson also has 10 more days to improve on his 271-7 that he hit on his final throw Monday evening in Eugene.
Thompson had the greatest series of his life Tuesday, averaging 260-3 on six legal throws. Nobody else in the competition had one throw of 260-3. So Thompson’s six-throw average would have won the Olympic Trials!
Thompson won the event by nearly 12 feet. Michael Shuey placed second at 260-0, and when his sixth and final attempt landed at 258-2, it clinched the championship for Thompson.
This is Thompson’s second national title and first Olympic Trials title. He led the 2016 meet – and broke the Olympic Trials record with a 271-11 on his first throw – before Cyrus Hostetler threw 273-1 on his fifth throw to break Thompson’s meet record and snag the one available Olympic berth.
Thompson didn’t let that happen this year.
He bombed a 263-7 on his first throw of the competition and nobody came within three feet of it the rest of the meet.
Thompson, with the victory locked up, Thompson finished the competition by hitting the second-biggest throw of his life and the No. 3 throw in meet history.
Importantly, that 271-7 moved him up from No. 28 in the world to No. 18, dramatically improving his chances of being in the top 32 in 10 days.
Thompson now owns two of the top three throws in U.S. Olympic Trials history.
This is the second national title for Thompson, who threw 249-3 to win the 2018 championship in Des Moines, Iowa.
Thompson is the first South Jersey Olympic Trials champ on the men’s side since Edgewood graduate Dennis Mitchell won the 100 in 1996 and the first New Jersey winner since Bobby Smith of Hopatcong won the javelin in 2008 (but did not go to the Olympics because he never achieved the A standard necessary that year).
After his 263-7, Thompson threw 243-8 on his second attempt and then finished the qualifying round with a 260-4, which was the second-best throw of the first set of throws.
He opened the finals with a 262-9 and a 259-8 before his closing bomb of 271-7, just four inches off his PR from the 2016 Trials.
Thompson’s margin of victory – 11 feet, 7 inches – is the largest since 1984, when Duncan Atwood won by 27 feet, 10 inches over Tom Petranoff.